Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
[Wasn't it roughly this time last year when I said I was going to be better about blogging in 2012? Oh, yeah. It was. Hmm. Well, let's try this again. Maybe it'll stick this time.]
I rang out the old year yesterday by taking in Django Unchained, the latest from ultra-violence-loving director Quentin Tarantino. I’m still processing the experience, so these are merely some quick, fragmentary reflections. Ask me again tomorrow, and maybe they’ll have shifted. Also, there may be a few spoilers below. If you haven’t seen the film, and you want to do so without knowing too much more, then you may not want to read past the first bullet point.
It’s a cliché of the highest order — especially for us academics on the humanities side of campus — but I’ve resolved to be better about writing this year. Book writing. Essay writing. Correspondence writing. And, yes, blog writing. I’ve cleaned up my home office. I’ve rearranged it a bit to make it a more comfortable, ergonomic space in which to work. I’ve set myself some (hopefully) manageable goals and am trying to settle into new routines. We’ll see how this goes in the days and weeks to come, of course. But one of those new routines includes a target of 2-3 fresh blog posts each week, with a potential tie-in to the grad seminar I’m teaching this spring. So here I am, poking away at my iPad, and trying to breathe some life back into this dusty little corner of the interwebs.
And, yes, I’m aiming to blog from my iPad as much as I can. The laptop is still always an option — and it’s certainly a friendlier typing machine — but I’m also not a touch-typist, so I’ve got no indelible home-key habits or tactile rhythms to disrupt when faced with a virtual keyboard embedded in a sheet of touch-sensitive glass. The iPad is also a much more frequent companion than the laptop as I move about town (and beyond) these days. And, perhaps most crucially, several months back, I splurged on a WordPress-friendly blogging app several months ago that has simply been gathering dust in its corner of my home screen. So this piece of my resolution also helps me recoup my major economic investment in Blogsy. After all, that’s $5 that I will never, ever get back . . .
I’ll admit that when the iPad first came out, I wasn’t even remotely tempted by it. I simply didn’t see the point. I already had an iPod Touch and a laptop, and I was perfectly happy with both. More specifically, the iPad seemed to me to be precisely the wrong combination of the two: an iPod that was to big to fit in my pocket, and a portable computer that was too small and too weak to fit my everyday needs. But then I spent a lovely chunk of my July in Belgium, where I watched some good friends zip around with these light, bright, tight little machines for note-taking, emailing, game-playing (etc.) . . . and I got a serious case of Gear Envy.
And so I splurged. And, six months or so later, I haven’t regretted it at all. The iPad won’t replace my laptop as my primary computing device. I’m still too big a fan of the penguin and open source software to join the Cupertino cabal as a full-time member. And, even given all the wondrous things one can do with cloud computing these days, I’m not yet ready to give up on a machine where several gigabytes of files — from old syllabi to new music, digital photos to PDF-ified readings — are always available to me, even when I’m not online.
Regardless of what device I’m using, though, (and, truth be told, I’ve now worked on this entry on both my available options) I’m aiming to drop more text in this space in the coming year than was the case in 2011. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a promise or a threat.
One week later, and there are still a handful of movies that remain unnamed. So here’s a set of “second chance” quotes (along with the previous, still unidentified quotes) for each of the remaining films.
And, as always, this is for amusement purposes only. No gambling.
I was tagged with a movie quote meme. And being an agreeable fella (at least sometimes), I’m cooperating. I’ve modified the rules a bit. They look like this:
I’m tagging Anne, Gaughin, Geoff, Greg, Grrrl on the Bus, Jonathan, Mark, Mel, TAFKAB, Ted, and Timothy. [Yes, I know that's not ten. But these go to eleven. And that quote's too easy to actually use below.]
And I found I couldn’t stop at fifteen either. You can see why I gave up on that mathematics degree, eh?
Update: For the sake of legibility, I opted to underline correctly identified quotes, rather than strike them out.
I received a curious e-mail today. Except for the obvious spots where I’ve expunged identifying information, it looked like this:
Dear Gil Rodman,
We loved your blog, thank you for the great content! I would like to give you an iPod Shuffle gift in exchange for a link to our [sitename] site on your site navigation panel.
[sitename] ([siteURL]) is a free [site descriptor] research tool for students and educators covering over 20,000 [site descriptor]. Please add our link using the anchor text â€œ[sitename]â€ and I will send you your iPod certificate. For more information on iPod Shuffle, please visit http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/ – you just need to select your preferred color :)
Please let me know if you have any questions.
What was particularly amusing about this request is that the site in question is completely unrelated to any topic I’ve posted about over the past year and change. The site in question doesn’t sell imported auto parts, but it would make about as much sense for me to link to this site if, in fact, that was its focus. I’m assuming that the same request was sent to thousands of bloggers pretty much at random — and I suspect that the iPod Shuffle offer isn’t what it’s cracked up to be either. Anyone else out there get hit up with something like this?
I’ve got a blog. It’s written using my real name. Its online home is my department’s server. So it was only a matter of time before one of my undergraduate students discovered this space.
It’s possible, of course, that this happened long ago and no one bothered to tell me. But tonight, one of the students in my other class — the class that I failed to mention in my post on the Science Museum of Minnesota’s exhibit on race — revealed that she had been poking around the department’s website … and, in so doing, stumbled across these wayward scribblings of mine.
It would be easy — too easy — for me to respond to this particular moment of discovery (and the apparent sense of surprise that accompanied it) in stereotypical fashion: i.e., to affect a wry sense of superiority and comment on the putative naivete of students who fail to realize that their professors have lives off campus that include all sorts of things that “ordinary” people do. Grocery shopping. Happy hours. Movies. Blogging.
Much as there’s some truth in such a response — it is always amusing to watch the visible shock on some students’ faces when they encounter me pushing a shopping cart by the cheese counter at the local supermarket — it would also be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge that this sword can (and often does) cut both ways. That I sometimes get caught with that surprised look when I run into a student of mine at a “faculty” bar (as if one has to show a suitably endowed c.v. to get in the door?) or at the pet supply store (as if students don’t need to buy dog kibble too?).
So I’ll own up to having been caught off guard by my student’s revelation. Not upset, mind you. And, as noted above, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, especially since I’ve often blogged (or, in some cases, deliberately not blogged) with one eye on the possibility that my words might someday wind up in front of my students. But there was also a part of me that was genuinely unprepared for the reality that at least some of my undergrads would eventually — inevitably — find these words.
And it’s probably good for me to have that bubble burst from time to time. I like to think that I’m good at remembering that “my” students are adults in their own right, and that if I were to encounter most of them for the first time in any number of other contexts, we’d all just be “ordinary” people to each other. But it’s also awfully easy to get caught up in the “us vs. them” mentality that permeates so much of the student/teacher discourse — even for those of us who don’t want to embrace such an adversarial way of framing that relationship.
So a tip of the proverbial hat to the newest reader of this humble blog (even if she never reads it again) for the helpful reminder of the gap between my own ideals and what actually goes on inside my head sometimes.
Not only do I suddenly find myself in a mini-blogging frenzy of my own (after way too long a gap) — three posts in four days? as if I’m Michael Bérubé or something? — but I also find myself piping up with quips and comments on other people’s blogs — and sometimes even doing so with more prose than I’m laying down in my own blogyard.
Last night, a dear friend of mine who doesn’t have a blog was telling me that one of the reasons she had yet to start a blog of her own was because she wasn’t sure how best to give public voice to details of her daily life — especially those details that involved friends, family, and colleagues who might not always be so keen on having their daily lives shared with the world. That amazingly offensive comment that came out of your coworker’s mouth over lunch (for instance) may be great fodder for a lively (or poignant, or ribald, or polemical (depending on just what was said)) post to your own blog . . . but your coworkers may not be quite so happy to have their gaffes recorded for posterity in a public forum, especially when those gaffes can be traced back to them because you’ve attached your own name to your blog.
You may be thinking that the obvious solution here is a pseudonymous blog. Find yourself a handle that doesn’t point back to the “real” you in any obvious way, be incredibly scrupulous about keeping any identifying information out of your blogspace, and you can post carefully redacted (but otherwise accurate) tales about anyone and everyone you know.
The real catch here, as I was forcefully reminded a short while ago, is how hard it is to be “incredibly scrupulous.” That reminder came courtesy of a blog that I follow in my feedreader (but not in the blogroll to the left), where the pseudonymous blogger in question — let’s call em “PB” to make things easy — reported that, at the end of a very rough day (and then some), e was in eir office and completely wiped out: in both the “exhausted” and “drunk” senses of the term.
It’s certainly PB’s business (and not mine) if e’s drunk at work (after hours or otherwise). And as long as PB really is diligent about maintaining a gap between blogspace and “real life,” this sort of revelation probably won’t have any direct impact on eir job. PB’s boss would probably prefer that PB stayed sober while in the office but, if PB’s B is truly P, PB’s boss won’t have any way to know what happened . . . even if PB’s boss happens to read PB’s blog.
Trouble is, I happen to know PB’s real name and where e works: not because PB ever revealed eir secret to me (or even that e had a blog), but because e’s left traces to eir true identity online where anyone who wants to can find them. I’ve got no interest whatsoever in narcing on PB (again, it’s eir business, not mine . . . and, for all I know, eir boss may’ve been the one who supplied the bottle). If anything, I’m sorry to hear that e’s had such a rough time of late that e’s wiped out this way.
My conundrum is this: do I tell PB that eir blog may not be quite as private a sanctuary as e thinks it is? On the one hand, I think that if I were PB, I’d want to know that my blog might be revealing more than I wanted it to — and that I’d rather learn that hard truth before I inadvertently revealed too much to the wrong people. On the other hand, I think that if I were PB, I might be a little freaked out if someone I barely knew (I met PB very briefly at a conference) suddenly dropped a note in my inbox telling me that they had uncovered my “secret identity,” even if that someone was clearly trying to do me a favor.
Of course, on the third hand (and it’s always happy to have a third hand around for emergencies), if PB happens to read my blog, maybe I’ve just resolved that dilemma anyway. So, PB, if you’re out there, please be careful . . .
On the whole, I liked the Coffee Cup theme I’ve been using for the past few months. But it was an awful lot of brown to look at on a regular basis. And so I’ve swapped it out — for now anyway — for the crisp blueness of AquaFluid.
Ted Striphas was kind enough to offer unsolicited plugs on his blog for Greg Wise’s new blog as well as the humble blogging endeavor that you currently have in your . . . hands? browser cache? short-term RAM?
And Ted’s clearly got the sort of instantaneous impact that Madison Avenue (and their advertising counterparts elsewhere around the globe) would love to have, since that single post immediately produced a groundswell of new visitors to my tiny corner of the blogosphere.
Well, okay. It produced one such visitor. Or at least one who made his presence known. So I’ll send a hearty “nicetomeetcha” out to Glen Fuller as I add him to my own blogroll.
In the meantime, Ted is hereby publicly warned that he must not use his newfound(?) powers for evil.